Saturday, 24 November 2007

A quiet Saturday night

What do normal people do on a cold, windy Saturday night? Go out to the cinema or a meal? Have dinner with friends? Get in a DVD and snuggle up on the sofa for the evening? Or, like me, sit on the floor with a water spray in hand ready to spray whichever hissy cat decides to attack the other. But, I don't think it's normal to do this every evening, let alone a Saturday.

Yesterday was a no-pheromone day; I unplugged the diffuser and gave our senses a rest. I'm not convinced it's really helping relations between the cats; more a case of drugging us all up to the eyeballs. The kitten is getting bigger and soon he will retaliate. Do I wait for this or continue to be Diplomat of the Year, playing with them both, stroking and praising them for good behaviour, spraying Banjo with water whenever she attempts to bully Pebble?

Or, do I get a life of my own? How do I get a life of my own is more the question. I really don't want to join a Book Club; I don't want to learn to play Bridge; and I don't want to respond to the invite to join the Womens Institute.

Today I witnessed couples who were in love, couples who were bickering in a shop, husbands who clearly didn't want to be out shopping, children screaming and being pulled in and out of shops. Perhaps I should be grateful that I don't have any of the usual weekend family feuds... just the feline feuds.

Years' ago when I had the girls at home, the weekends were manic; shopping, cleaning, cooking, ironing, sorting out teenage feuds and marital discontentment, and I used to wish for calm and peace and quiet. Then I had weekends with my lovely man where everything we did was peaceful and great. Now I have calm and quiet... and loneliness. Me and thousands of others.

Adoringly Oxford

The very young couple in front of me were arm in arm, having eyes only for one another and with leg movements in perfect syncronisation. They were both about twenty years' of age. She looked adoringly up at his eyes as he spoke; they laughed a lot and bumped into people along the way, oblivious of everything and everyone around them.

When I was twenty years and four months of age, I was getting married. Why? Haven't a clue, except perhaps it was the 'thing' to do back then. Despite being in the seventies, living together wasn't an option for most of us. I'd only known this man a short while; I didn't know him at all, just that he was quite attractive, not very witty or funny, but, according to my fellow Wrens, 'quite a dish'. I remember saying to myself as we stood in front of the Registrar, 'if it doesn't work out then we can get a divorce.' I meant it too. That's how young, stupid and naive I was.

Two babies within seventeen months' later I knew I'd jumped into marriage too soon and for all the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, I decided I would make a go of this marriage and that (even more stupidly), I could change him. Two more babies later and round about when my Dad, then my Mum died I realised I didn't, couldn't and wouldn't love this man no matter how hard I tried.

Luckily, he spent most of our marriage away at sea while I thoroughly enjoyed my lovely babies who are now lovely women. It wasn't until I'd left him and had found my real love that I discovered what marriage should be like. For the first time, in my forties, I experienced affection, consideration, respect, laughter and wonderful, great sex that wasn't just sex. I gave and received love unconditionally; no bullying or controlling; no shouting or sulking. I thought of all these things as I walked behind the young couple in Oxford today, wondering if they would still be together in twenty years' time. I hoped they wouldn't jump into marriage too soon, but thinking about it, my first husband and I never walked arm in arm, never looked adoringly at each other, nor did we hang on each other's word.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Building Bridges

I have a photo of me as a girl of about 6 years standing in front of this granite stone viaduct in South Wales. This was taken recently; it is still strong and reliable; still supporting heavy engines and carriages; still a magnificent piece of architecture.

When my family fell apart; due entirely to me leaving my husband of 24 years back in 1995; I was unable to provide the strong support that my grown-up girls still required of me. Two of them provided shelter for me when I had nowhere to live; they provided me with support. Now, I hope I can still provide them with support when they need it; and they have helped me through the last 2 years of grief after my lovely second husband died. Real friends and close family are the granite of our lives; where would we be without them?

When I left my first husband I was condemned by many; those who only saw the facade of a family and marriage and who didn't know the truth of my existence. I am lucky in that three of my four daughters knew the truth and supported me when I couldn't live a lie any longer. I know of some women who would rather live out a lie than be honest and get out of a bad relationship. Which is the right thing to do? For me, I did the right thing and only regret the effect of acrimony and the resulting resentment of my youngest daughter after having thrust upon her the responsibility of looking after her aggrieved father and for whom she felt responsible and trapped.

Now, I hope I can provide the granite-type support for all of my daughters whenever they need it and that none of us dwell on all the hurt of the past.

Meanwhile, with a water-spray in hand, I can come between the two cats who are getting more assertive and aggressive with each other as the days pass. They don't say how to cope with feline tantrums and fighting in the Feline Advisory Website! Maybe the Plug-in pheramone diffuser has run out! I must remain a strong architectural structure myself and ensure they know who is boss around here.